Good COP, Bad COP

3 minute read

This year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt – COP27 – lacks the fanfare of last fall’s gathering in Glasgow. Whereas COP26 brought together world leaders, public figures, and A-list celebrities from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden to Greta Thunberg and Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharm El-Sheikh is noticeably quieter.  

Canada’s delegation is significantly smaller – and more modest – too. Rather than traveling halfway across the globe in a high-polluting jet or sending one of his top lieutenants in Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland or Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, Trudeau left Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault in charge of Canada’s contingent.   

But what Canada may be lacking in star power at this year’s conference, it is seeking to make up for with a set of concrete climate-related initiatives and a flurry of announcements in recent weeks. Let’s take a look.  

Playing the Good COP

Just a few months ago, the Liberal government unveiled its 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) – a sprawling, sector-by-sector road map aimed at helping Canada reach its emissions reduction targets by 2030 and become fully net-zero by 2050. Earlier this month, Chrystia Freeland delivered the Fall Economic Statement (FES) and expanded on Budget 2022’s promise to launch the Canada Growth Fund – a $15 billion investment meant to attract the private capital needed to help decarbonize the economy.

As part of her FES remarks, Freeland also committed to begin consultations on the Clean Hydrogen Investment Tax Credit in addition to implementing a Clean Technology Investment Tax Credit that will encourage companies to adopt clean technologies by covering 30% of the capital cost of eligible equipment. “We can lead the fight against climate change,” she said, “and we can do it in a way that creates good jobs and new businesses for Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast.” 

And with COP27 fast approaching, the federal Liberals have been seeking to build even more momentum for their climate action in recent weeks. Just last week, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced that Canada would be joining the Zero-Emission Shipping Mission while launching a Green Shipping Corridors Framework to establish green shipping routes between ports around the world.

Moreover, the Liberal government has increasingly been embracing a global approach to climate action and seeking to position itself as a leader in international climate finance: the use of public and private financing to address climate change and support mitigation and adaptation strategies.

A few days before COP27 began, for example, Canada and Germany unveiled a progress report on the Climate Delivery Plan – a global agreement to mobilize $100 billion in climate finance annually toward the needs of developing countries between 2009 and 2025. And just a few days ago, Canada shared that it would be setting aside $24 million to help developing countries address climate change. 

Playing the Bad COP

That’s all good and well, but what does the Liberal government’s record tell us about their delivery on their targets. Crafting plans and setting ambitious targets is one thing, but walking the walk and making the difficult political and economic decisions that are needed to meet those targets is a different matter altogether. Trudeau himself said it best during a recent Q&A with the Canadian Climate Institute. ”Any politician can put forward a target,” he admitted. “Can you actually put forward a plan to do it?” 

Any politician can put forward a plan, too. Can they actually make the tough calls and follow through with it? After eight years in government and zero targets met, the Liberals may be starting to lose the benefit of the doubt.

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